Mead Lover's Digest #0282 Wed 23 March 1994


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Coordinator



Why homebrewers boil and fart. (John Gorman)


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Subject: Why homebrewers boil and fart.
From: (John Gorman)
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 1994 11:26:55 EST

> >Also some sources say NEVER boil the honey, while other
> >say to boil it for 20 minutes or so. I've been brewing beer for a
> >while, so I decided to go with boiling the "stuff". What's the diff
> >in the final product?


> It`s my "theory" that beer makers tend to boil the honey, while wine makers do
> not (I know that this is probably too generalized to be very accurate). The
> only reason that I can think of to boil the honey is to kill any wild yeasts
> and other beasties. From wine making I know that there are several substances

Homebrewers have to use sanitary technique, including boiling the wort
to avoid contamination and off-flavors from non-yeastie beasties.

The reason for this is that barley stores its energy in the form of
a carbohydrate (starch), which consists of long chains of sugar
molecules strung together. The barley is soaked and sprouted (malted.)
In order to sprout and grow, the barley needs to convert the starch
into sugar, so it forms enzymes that split the long chains of sugar
molecules into pieces.

The action of this enzyme is partly random and some of the starch
is converted to simple sugars, some stays as starch, and some is
partially split into "higher sugars", which are short chains of
sugar molecules.

Beer yeast eats all of the simple sugars and then settles out,
leaving the higher sugars behind. Yeast cannot eat the higher
sugars. We humans taste the higher sugars as the sweetness of beer.

There are non-yeast beasties that CAN eat the higher sugars.
These are the beasties that homebrewers dread, because they
can contaminate and spoil a beer after the primary fermentation
during conditioning or in the bottle.

Honey, on the other hand, consists only of simple sugars. There
are two ways for a mead fermentation to end. The yeast runs out
of sugar and settles out, or the alcohol concentration rises and
kills the yeast, which settles out. In the first case, there is
no sugar left for other beasties to live on. In the second case,
the alcohol rises to levels that kill everything, and there are
no beasties left at all.

In summation, there is no need for sanitary technique in meadmaking.
I have made 30 five gallon batches of all kinds without any heating
or chemical sanitization of honey, berries, etc, without a single
case of contamination. I just mix in the honey, warm water, yeast
nutrient, and yeast, along with any fruit. Takes a half hour!

As to clarification of my unboiled mead, I either just wait for
complete clarity (which eventually always happens), or I wait
until fermentation ceases and then rack once or twice with
bentonite. Bentonite will produce crystal clear mead ready to
bottle at 4-6 weeks old.

Oh, yes. Homebrewers fart because: 1) live yeast from the beer
grows in our intestines. 2) Those leftover higher sugars in the
beer are eaten by our own personal intestinal beasties. Reason two
is also why beans make us fart. Beans contain higher sugars too.
Maybe beer competitions could serve Beano cocktails every two hours!


  • john


John Gorman
Relational Semantics, Inc. 617-926-0979
17 Mount Auburn Street Watertown MA 02172 USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #282